Saturday, December 9, 2023

Visually Impaired Mp Speaks Out ‘Disability does not mean inability’


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By Ndey Sowe

Foroyaa: Can you please tell me your name?

Ndey: My name is Ndey Secka.

Foroyaa: Tell me about yourself?

Ndey: I was born in the Gambia, and visually impaired. I went to School in the Gambia. I attended Campama School for the Blind, from where I proceeded to St. Joseph’s High School. Later I had a scholarship to study in the UK, where I learned Brail Technology, a visually impaired administration orientation on mobility and living skills, which persons with disability need to acquire, to study at the FE College. I had studied organizational development plans, business administration, brail technology to name just a few. I also worked at the department of social welfare as social welfare assistant. I worked at Radio Gambia, now GRTS. I started as a typist, typing public notices and advertisements. I started producing programs like talk on religion and cultural programs as well. I also did announcements and editing.

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Foroyaa: Before becoming an MP, what was your profession?

Ndey: My profession? Well, I was good at production of programs. I knew how to type, using the ordinary type writer and was able to do a lot. I was able to communicate with the sighted world. Whatever I write, people can read and I need brail to read, to be able to know my vocabulary. How did you cope with your work? I struggled to succeed because I believed in myself. That is why I am able to be here.

Foroyaa: Do you face any discrimination because you are visually impaired?

Ndey: Oh Yes, I do. I face discrimination. There are so many things that I can do but due to the fact that the right equipment is not available in this country, people forget one’s abilities. Disability does mean inability. It is only a part of the body that is not functioning as it should. This does not make one to be unable. I will say that everybody in this world, has disability in one way or form, in their lives.

Foroyaa: You are now a nominated member at the National Assembly. How did you receive the news of your appointment?

Ndey: Very surprising, because I received the news late. Some people knew about it but for me I receive it late. And when I went to the National Assembly, I was thinking that I will be going there to record or do some editing, not knowing that I was nominated to be a member. It was really a surprise to me. I never expected that I will be nominated as a member of the National Assembly.

Foroyaa: What do you think you can do as an MP to further the cause of persons with disability?

Ndey: To advocate, sensitize, and educate people with the little knowledge I have, as far as disability is concerned. I think people are coming to know, because even when I was at Radio Gambia, I was advocating for people with disability. I do this for nobody but myself. How many people with disability are out there not knowing what is happening and they can do a lot. People with disability should be catered for because if they do, they will do a lot for the betterment of the country.

Foroyaa: What is the status of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disability? Is that now part of our domestic Law?

Ndey: Not yet. It has been ratified but not domesticated. In fact, this is what I was saying yesterday at the disability commemoration. While some people are saying that we are celebrating, we are not. Since time immemorial, we have been organizing programs such as March passes every year, and still we are lagging behind. The UN convention should be domesticated. Our disability bill is here pending, and has not even been passed. It has been validated but not passed.

Foroyaa: What do you think Government needs to do, to enhance the status of persons with disability and protect their rights?

Ndey: Government should listen to us. The Gambia is fortunate to have some people who are ready to talk to Government. Let Government listen to us and do what we tell them. Anything else with disability, is a failure. Sometime we organize programs where they come and give us lip service and that will be the end of it. They should know that we are part and parcel of society. We need a share, we do not need talks but action.

Foroyaa: I understand that you are a gender activist?

Ndey: I am a gender activist, yes. I will applaud some men who are genuine. There are genuine men and I will continue to pray for them and tell them thank you. But those who are not genuine, are just saying it for their own interest. I urge women to come together, and work as one. Women are families and not rivals. So, all women should join hands and work for the development of the country.

Foroyaa: What is your view on gender parity in terms of representation and appointment?

Ndey: It is very essential. Gender equality issues are what we are fighting for. I want to tell the CRC to make sure that the proposed new Constitution, make provision for gender parity. I am fighting for it and it is very important. In the National Assembly, we are the first people to represent ourselves on women issues.

Foroyaa: What are your challenges and how do you hope to overcome them?

Ndey: Yes. My challenges. They are many, but I will just prioritize some of them. I will need sensitive gadgets to help tell me what to do, just like it is done in other counties, and not to depend on my children for assistance. They have been so helpful to me that I sympathize with them.

Foroyaa: What do you have to say to our leaders?

Ndey: Let our leader be genuine. This country needs genuine leaders. Let them not be selfish and let us forget tribe. We are one Gambia, one people and one nation. That is what we have. The leaders should listen to what Gambians tell them, because the country belongs to all of us. Gone are the days when leaders will fool us. We are not ready to be cheated or fooled. We do not need parties now, but active and genuine people who will work for the country’s progress.

Foroyaa: Thank you for granting me your precious time. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

Ndey: The pleasure is mine. Thank you.

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